Monday, February 22, 2016

We have Moved

Monday, May 11, 2015

Hobby Farming Fun

Well, a lot has been happening since my last entry.
Our last child left for college, we moved to a 5 acre hobby farm, and we started collecting animals and growing food.

We are loving our simpler life in the country, milking the goat, training our Great Pyrenees puppy, collecting eggs, and planning the garden for this coming season. Our chicks arrive at the end of this week and we will be entertained by 30 new fluff balls.  There is never a dull moment on the farm, and we are always looking for ways to reuse and recycle.  We outfitted a 250 gallon, old soy sauce container to collect rainwater from the pole barn roof and have filled it with rain water after just one storm.  We made a worm compost system and have been watering our early plants with compost tea, or the run off from the container.  It's packed with amazing plant food!  We're experimenting with goat milk cheese making - yum.  What we don't use, the dog and chickens lap up with enthusiasm!

Our lives are sure busy, but we are loving every minute.  This is a dream my husband and I have shared for over 30 years.  We decided that if we didn't "go for it" now, we'd be too old, and we might regret never trying.  Not everyone understands our kind of "fun", but the two of us are happy, and in the end, I think that we'll have wonderful memories of this grand adventure.

“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.” 
― Joseph Campbell

Friday, March 7, 2014

Whole Lotta Change

This has been a year filled with change. 
One of our kids went away to college and we sold our home of 12 years and are trying our skills as hobby farmers.  
   The collegiate had a bumpy first few months.  There is a lot to getting used to a new roommate and lifestyle.  He joined the rowing team and things quickly turned around for him.  I think that most people want to be a part of some thing larger than themselves, be it a club, team, church, community, or something else. 
   Selling a home after filling it with stuff and memories for 12 years is a process.  We began by going through everything.  We made weekly trips to Goodwill and sold things to friends and family.  Once we had pared down our belongings to what we thought was essential, we were ready to sell.  We found friendly honest realtors who always seemed to have our best interest at heart.  I have a wonderful friend, Robin, who is an interior designer and home-stager, and she was an amazing asset!
   We cleaned the house and readied it for the new owners.  Once you decide to put your home on the market, I think that it is best if you change your thought process a bit.  Your home is no longer yours.  It is a place that people meander through and try to picture housing their furniture, keepsakes and future memories.  Most will want to make the place their own with new wall color, carpet, etc.  Most often, they won't like your stuff and that's okay.  The right buyer is out there, and when the time is right, everything will "click" into place.
   Whatever your transition, give yourself the gift of non judgement. It is just an experience, an emotion, a process.  Take a step back and breathe.  What steps can you take to make your transition easier and/or more successful?  Remember to ask for help.  There are people who want to support you!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Do you Iron?

One of my wonderful clients is a widow who lives in a retirement community.  "Judy" cannot drive, and only has one child.  She doesn't want to burden her daughter with all of her needs.  Not long ago, I took her to a medical appointment, to Wallgreens to shop, and then to Target to pick up her prescription.  She kept apologizing for being such a pain and making me stow her walker after each new stop.  I assured her that it was not only what I did, but what I truly love to do!  We had such a fun morning together.  I got her home and settled back into her apartment so that she had time to rest.

Several weeks later I got another call from Judy.  "Do you iron?" she asked me.  "I'm too dizzy to iron, and the pile just keeps growing.  It's really starting to get to me."  "Yes", I answered, "I do iron", and that is exactly what I did for 2 1/2 hours.  She kept asking me how I could be so fast.   I reminded her that I didn't have to iron while hanging on to a walker, and that I didn't have to wrestle with the ironed shirts while using a walker to go hang them up in the closet.  After she initially offered me soup to take the chill off of the blustery day, we spent most of the time visiting while I ironed.  I was thinking while we talked that even surrounded by a community, at times we can still be pretty isolated or lonely.

Each of us has our "ironing pile".  It's that thing that sends us from "I can manage," to over the top.  It can build slowly, or it can snap like a twig .  No matter what the trigger, or the resulting emotion, you are not crazy.  You are overwhelmed.  There are so many ways that I can help, and nothing seems to silly or to minimal.  As a hospice volunteer, I was told to leave judgement at the door, and I have never heard wiser words!   Why turn down help because your house is too dirty, or the laundry pile is too big?  Isn't that exactly what you would like help conquering?!  Imagine the possibilities....

Another great adventure

I had the most awesome day today!  I was with one of my great clients, well actually 2 of my clients, since they are an elderly couple.  Their daughters have hired me to look in on "Lila and Bob" two evenings each week.  This gives the adult children a nice break and an opportunity to spend time with their own families.  My assignment is to look in on the adorable couple, make sure that they have what they need for dinner, and help them with chores, or take them on errands. 

This night, the pre-ordered dinner did not arrive, so I navigated the retirement community resources to find out if dinner delivery was late or nonexistent.  Lila and Bob can no longer drive, so they love to have me take them on errands.  Tonight, after we scoured the refrigerator to put together a dinner, we went to Walmart.  Lila has some pretty significant memory loss, so as we strolled the aisles, I calmed her fear (several times) that her husband had forgotten the list and his wallet.  We were giggling through the store and trying to keep up with Bob's spry pace.  I helped them find everything on their list, and  a few treats that weren't.  When we got to the check out, a man of about 60 paused near us and asked "Are you their daughter?"  I replied "No" and asked why he wanted to know.  He said, "You are just so cute together."  I thanked him, and as he walked away he said "Thank you for helping them." 

I haven't stopped thinking about the Walmart mystery man's comments.  I had been going through the store so in awe- that I got to do this work, that it's always an adventure, that it never feels like work, and that I love it so much!  To have a stranger tell me that he saw the JOY that we were exuding was mind-blowing to say the least.  Truly magical....

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How to Love Life Again After Losing a Spouse" by BeckyAikman.

In  Bottom Line Personal magazine, there was a great article entitled "How to Love Life Again After Losing a Spouse" by BeckyAikman.  

"Becky Aikman was in her 40s when she lost her husband to cancer.  She formed a group with five other widows.  Their goal: To learn to live again after the worst thing that ever happened to them.  In the process, they found that some of the traditional thinking about loss and recovery wasn't helpful.  
Here, advice for rebuilding your life--when you feel ready to do so--in the months or years after the death of your husband or wife...

Don't put off rebuilding because you haven't yet experienced the stages of grief
People who lose a spouse often experience waves of emotion separated by periods of feeling relatively normal.  Over time, the waves become less extreme and less frequent until the widow or widower feels ready to reengage with humanity. 

Be wary of support groups 
If  you feel supported by the group then continue, but be wary of focusing on feelings of grief.  You may find that you are focusing on sadness.  Attending the group in the beginning may feel like a great fit, but listen to yourself and know that it's OK to stop attending once it no longer "fits".  

Make decisions based on what you want your life to look like in the future, not maintaining the life you had before 
Plans made while a spouse was living may no longer fit your single lifestyle:  vacation plans, home or retirement living, and more.  

Be proactive about making plans with friends.   They may be attentive relatively soon after the loss of a partner.  As time goes on, they may be less inclined to call, especially if you have turned down meetings and outings in the past.  Now that (ital)you are ready, call to schedule something well in advance of the date that you want to meet.  

Construct a new circle of single friends

Get over any guilt about new romantic relationships
Researchers have found that it's people who were very deeply in love with their departed spouses who are most likely to find love again.


New experiences can help to start new routines or highlight areas of interest and give you something to look forward to while building your confidence.

Cook well for yourself
Nurturing yourself through good tasting proper nutrition will go far in helping improve your outlook on life. 

Travel with tour groups
Travel is an excellent way to have new and enjoyable experiences...If you travel with a tour group, you'll have people with whom you can share the adventure."  Just double check that there are single people in the group so that you are not the only unpaired traveler.  

Most importantly, and something that was not mentioned in the  article is, be kind and gentle with yourself.  Nurture yourself in ways that help you to heal, and be willing to ask for help. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

I am sometimes amazed at what I can see when I have a camera strung around my neck.  For some reason, I look at things differently.  I recently heard someone say the same thing about holding a sketch pad.  I think that after some time and some training, holding the camera, sketch pad or whatever your "thing" is,  switches the brain  over to a mode of observation or creativity.  If I find myself grumbling or thinking that I need a break, I should know by now, that I should wear a camera, even if I don't take one picture.  It calms me.  Look at this beautiful wild columbine flower.  It was hidden, but with my photographer's eye, it jumped out at me.  
If you are needing to switch gears and see your glass as half full, try holding your version of a camera, or doing that activity that transforms you.  Do you feel alive when you sing, when you dance, when you write?  Take the time to nurture yourself and you will pass it on 100-fold to those with whom you come in contact  all day long.  Leave people with a smile on their face wondering what is making you so happy.  Pass it on!